Remarks at the launch of ‘Investing in our Future’, Parliament House, Canberra

Speech
  • Minister for Child Care
  • Minister for Employment Participation

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It is great to see so many people here today and I’d like to say a special thank you to the children, parents, tutors and staff of HIPPY Charnwood – right here in Canberra - for coming along.

I would also like to pass on my personal congratulations to the recent graduates of HIPPY Charnwood. For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to attend a HIPPY graduation – I promise it is a sight to be seen and encourage you to get along to one soon as it is a very special occasion.

Back in 2007, the Australian Labor Party promised that if elected, we would work with our friends at the Brotherhood of St Laurence to provide new funding for an exciting and innovative project they had been administering –the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters, more affectionately known as HIPPY.

HIPPY is a two year, home-based parenting and early childhood enrichment program. It aims to reduce educational disadvantage through early intervention to build the confidence and skills of parents, helping them to become their child’s first “teacher”.

Well, we made good on that promise – providing $32.5 million to roll out HIPPY in fifty disadvantaged communities nationally, providing support to around 3500 families.

And just last month, I was pleased to announce the commencement of an additional group of children for the two-year program in 23 locations across the country commencing next year.

Today is a chance for us to celebrate the enormous benefits to our community that this investment, combined with the hard work of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, has made.

Today I am launching Investing in our Future, an evaluation report on HIPPY here in Australia.

And can I just say that the results are truly outstanding.

The report shows that when compared with the Australian norm, parents involved in HIPPY were:

  • 81% more likely to report that their child’s maths ability was better than that of the child’s classmates;
  • Three times more likely to be in contact with their child’s school and actively involved in their child’s learning and development; 
  • 66% less likely to have concerns about the way their child made speech sounds; and
  • 85% less likely to have concerns about their child’s ability to understand spoken words.

HIPPY is specifically targeted to children from disadvantaged backgrounds and yet, by the end of the program the gap between HIPPY children’s pre-numeracy and pre-literacy scores and the Australian norm had been closed.

The Report also found that beyond the benefits for children, HIPPY has given many parents and carers increased confidence in their role as their child’s first teacher.

The benefits to the family unit as a whole from this program are remarkable, with 48% of parents were in paid employment after finishing HIPPY, compared with only 33% at the start of the program.

I am thrilled to see that the Government’s investment in the early years is paying off and helping some of our most vulnerable children to develop a solid foundation for future learning and creating a culture of valuing education at home.

Over the next four years our Government will spend a record $20 billion in early childhood education and child care. This is actually well over double what was spent in this vital area during the last four years of the previous Government.

We are doing this because like all of you here today, we know that the first five years of a child’s life are critical and shape future outcomes.

By investing early, we know that we can make a difference in the lives of these young people but also to Australian society and to our economy as a whole.

This report estimates that HIPPY is likely to deliver an ultimate return on investment of up to $4 for every $1 spent. So I think I can safely say that investing in HIPPY is truly an investment for the future.

I’d like to commend Monash University and all the researchers and authors who contributed to this evaluation. And I thank the HIPPY sites across the country that participated in the research.

My sincere congratulations to the Brotherhood of St Laurence – you are administering a program that is truly transforming lives and you should be very proud.

This report is testament to the amazing work all involved in HIPPY are doing across the country.

Today is truly an occasion to celebration what HIPPY is achieving right across Australia.

ENDS

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